Mudcat Café message #2598801 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119547   Message #2598801
Posted By: Phil Edwards
27-Mar-09 - 03:51 PM
Thread Name: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
Rifleman: I was going to throw a spanner, regarding the great hurdy-gurdy player, Nigel Eaton (he late of Blowzabella) playing for Loreena McKennit

I don't give a monkey's who Nigel Eaton plays with or what he plays. If it sounds good, great. If it doesn't, too bad. If it's folk, it's folk. If it's not, it's not. Two completely separate questions.

Ron: I don't think anyone is arguing against a definition - the arguement is how that definition is interpreted.

I think the argument is what that definition is. Nobody's really advanced an alternative to 1954 other than "what gets played in folk clubs".

Having said that, I did like SS's comment -

Folk Musicians and Singers in Folk Clubs and singarounds aren't professionals, they are hearty amateurs, very often non-musicians; non-musos certainly. Therefore much of the charm of actual folk music (its folk character if you will) lies in the evident and entirely corporeal shortfall between intention and result. It lies in the immediacy of its empirical realisation and experience thereof; it can never happen that way again

That suggests it's not so much a matter of what gets played in folk clubs as of how it's played in folk clubs. And it's true that a song has to get its tie loosened and its hair messed up by that entirely corporeal shortfall between intention and result if it's ever going to become a folk song. So folk clubs - whatever kind of material you hear there - are one of the places where bits of the folk process can still operate, and that's worth celebrating in itself.

BUT (it's a big but)... there's still a difference between songs that have been marinated in the folk process for a couple of centuries and songs that get dunked in it every other Wednesday - not least because, in between times, I can always go away and find the correct words to a ballad or play a recording of Anne Briggs doing it properly. Not only that, but traditional songs almost invariably sound different from new ones - they tell different stories in different ways, they require a different kind of concentration from the singer and a different kind of attention from the audience. It's great to get up in front of other singers and sing something by Dylan or Neil Young or Morrissey in your own arrangement, or something you've just written yourself; it's great to do something that hasn't been done before, and it's even better when it goes down well. But if so much of that kind of 'folk character' comes in the front door that traditional songs go out the back - which is the case in the club nearest to me - then something's going wrong.